Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Bad Taste True Confessions: Erté

Last week Allen Tan posted on guilty pleasures.

Look: coming clean about a guilty pleasure takes a strange mixture of vulnerability and defensiveness. You’re knowingly putting yourself up for tomato-throwing. And at the same time, it’s confusing to be enjoying this thing in spite of – you really don’t know why! – your otherwise perfect taste.
His short essay struck a chord for me. Not only does he quote the key passage in Daniel Mendelsohn’s “A Critic’s Manifesto,“  the paragraph that explains how the best criticism works, by explaining the critic’s thought process and then leaving it up to you, but I have been meaning to ‘fess up in this space for some time.

As my children grow into their own tastes, some quite different from mine, I have started to recall my own early design assertions. I respect my parents the more for supporting my questionable choices. When I declared, at 10, that I was done with Marimekko and wanted instead sheets with blue roses (blue roses!) my mom went with it, going so far as to embroider matching pillowcases with an eyelet ruffle. If you know the adult me or my mother, you know we never ruffle. But she never let on.